WWII produced some novel weapon and vehicle designs, and one of the more unusual was certainly the British Welbike. This miniature motorcycle, the smallest ever employed by the British military, was designed for use by clandestine members of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). A total of 3,641 Welbikes were manufactured by the Excelsior Motor Company from 1942-45. An air-cooled Villiers 98cc engine powered the machine to a top speed of 48km/h although this must have been bumpy since it possessed no suspension and there was only a rear brake! It weighed a mere 32kg (minus its 3.7-liter load of fuel that offered a 144km range) and it could fit inside a parachute airdrop container. In the end, the SOE didn’t use the Welbike much, but it did become popular with paratroopers of the 1st and 6th Airborne
Divisions. The Welbike was thus used in such airborne operations as Market Garden in Arnhem, but commandoes also used them in landings at Anzio and Normandy.
Dragon has produced a superb 1/6 scale version of the Welbike. Just like the full-size motorcycle, the handlebars twist into position before the machine’s ridden off into battle. On the original Welbike the time taken from recovery from an airborne drop to being ridden away was
supposed to take just 11 seconds! Every detail of the unique machine is recreated beautifully, right down to accurate tire tread patterns, the spoked wheels and the two-stroke engine. The handlebars are steerable, and the saddle has fully functioning height adjustment. Thus this model Welbike can be readily adapted to a vignette featuring a suitable British paratrooper or
commando from the Dragon 1/6 Action Figure range. This model Welbike is well done indeed!